Sprint speeds up bus journeys

Bus journeys are up to 22% quicker following the introduction of Sprint priority measures on key Birmingham routes, according to Transport for West Midlands’ (TfWM’s) data.

The Sprint measures were introduced earlier this year. Phase 1 was completed in May to allow shuttle buses, operational for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, to benefit from the bus priority measures and ensure regular road users were less impacted by the additional traffic.

Times taken by 12,000 buses on the A45 between Sheldon and Birmingham city centre and the A34 between Walsall and the city centre during September have been compared with the same routes during the same month in 2019. The data has shown that journeys are 22% quicker for peak time commuters on the X1 and X2 as the buses bypass traffic jams during their morning rush hour commute on the A45 into Birmingham city centre.

A key reason for the introduction of Sprint bus lanes and priority junctions is that journey times for buses stuck in regular traffic had fluctuated by more than 20 minutes on both the A34 and A45.

Now this early data is showing that evening peak time variability on the X51 route between Birmingham and Walsall has reduced by 31% while there is a reduction of 35% in variability for the X1 and X2 routes from Birmingham to Sheldon. This means that passengers can now more accurately estimate their arrival time when boarding a bus.

Consultation over phase 2, which includes further bus priority measures on the A34 in Walsall and Sandwell and A45 in Solihull, as well as some smaller additional works in Birmingham, is due to take place once designs are completed. Construction is due to follow next year.

Phase 2 is being part-funded with a £56 million contribution from the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) awarded to the WMCA by the Department for Transport earlier this year. A cross-city route linking Walsall and Solihull with uninterrupted bus services will also start next year. This is due to be followed in 2024 with the introduction of 24 articulated hydrogen buses on the route.

“Despite only recently completing Phase One, the data shows that we’re already making a difference on the ground” – Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “Beyond the quality of bus itself, Sprint was intended to improve infrastructure, bus lanes and priority at junctions in order to enable buses to cut through traffic and offer passengers greater certainty around arrival times. I’m so pleased that we can now see that we have delivered in terms of both quicker and more reliable bus journeys for local residents.

“Despite only recently completing Phase One, the data shows that we’re already making a difference on the ground – saving people valuable time on their commute. So with further time saving measures on the way via Phase Two, with the introduction of hydrogen buses along the route, we’re confident Sprint customers will enjoy an even better experience in the near future.

“Sprint and other measures – such as the three-year bus fare freeze announced last month – all form part of our plans to grow our bus network over the coming years by making bus usage a more attractive, affordable and convenient alternative to a daily commute in the car.

“We remain steadfast in this commitment – despite current cost challenges faced by operators. We believe buses have a bright future in our region.”

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